Sometimes they’re just ideas that spring to mind when I’m picking or washing the veggies, or sorting the cooler (BIG refrigerator – like, we drive a forklift in there big) all by my lonesome. I get a lot of thinking done in my 38-degree solitude!
[ He just left… after finishing the last of the roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic; no polenta. He HATES polenta. Pablum he remembers with fondness… cornmeal mush not so much.]
I’m constantly on the lookout for great stuff at the markets. Last week was a ball of smoked mozzarella from another vendor. I love the stuff and can think of a million and one things to do with it. Back (seems like ages ago!) when I worked at the Bull’s Head Inn in Campbell Hall, NY, we smoked our own sliced mozzarella. It was there that I fell in love with the intense smokiness and creamy texture.
In fact, I roasted the tomatoes in the toaster oven – so not too much extra heat in my already-steamy kitchen. Slathered in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and sliced garlic, they cooked for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. The red and yellow orbs practically melted and their sugars caramelized and intensified, making them a perfect foil for the unassuming creamy yellow polenta.
Sliced shallots, minced garlic, 2-inch pieces of eggplant and green beans were all sauteed in olive oil. I grated in a bit of fresh (frozen for longer storage) ginger once the veggies were tender, then added about half of a block of extra firm tofu, cubed. I stirred in a can of coconut milk, a generous teaspoon Thai red curry paste, the juice of half of a lime, a teaspoon or so of brown sugar and some salt and pepper.
Once the sauce had thickened, and after several tastes, I stirred in a small handful of fresh basil leaves. I served this, lovingly and beautifully to myself, over a bed of jasmine rice. This is the kind of stuff my 6-year-old won’t eat (because of the spiciness), but he loves tofu – and his request was blue tofu. Fine by me!
The dish I made was inspired by this blog entry at Figs with Bri, although mine was much less ‘composed’ and arranged.
And if THAT doesn’t float your boat, how about some simple grilled eggplant? Again with the Fairy Tale!
Slice them in half lengthwise, then marinate in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, minced rosemary and garlic, salt and pepper. Instead of mincing garlic with my knife, I oftentimes use a microplane grater. I also use it for ginger. The microplane makes very fine bits of garlic which give off a ton of flavor without the intense bite and occasionally offensive mouth-feel of chopped.
After marinating for at least 30 minutes, grill the eggplant until they are tender and they have beautiful grill marks on both sides. I had so much leftover that I used it in a tortellini pasta salad the next day – tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and some tomatoes, grilled zucchini and spicy pickled peppers from another neighbor at the market.
A customer I spoke with a few weeks ago said she was doing exactly as I did, but was going to put them onto grilled bread that had been smeared with soft goat cheese and roasted garlic. Yes. I went out that night and bought goat cheese.
Moral of the story: If I happen to help you at a market and ask you “what are you doing with all those beets”, please tell me – you never know if it’ll show up here someday soon!